Public management of existing housing stock as a policy for the promotion of social housing

Despite the fact that the construction of new housing has always formed part of our country's housing policies, Juan Antonio Módenes, researcher at the Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics, states that with the current and future population structure, the demand for new homes can be covered by the supply of the existing stock. In other words, it would not be necessary to build new homes because the homes that remain empty due to the mortality process of the elderly could cover the needs for new homes required by the young people who are becoming emancipated. But, according to Módenes, this is not so simple, since not all of the park that is offered can be easily occupied by young people, but there is a part that is diverted to other uses, such as tourism, or that does not meet the necessary qualities to be habitable.

Thus, if we want policies to change in favour of the use and proper management of existing housing, two actions should be promoted. The first is introduced by Jaime Palomera, spokesperson for the Sindicat de Llogateres, with the public purchase of housing (a technique known as "tanteig" in catalan), recovering it from the speculative market and transforming it into affordable and protected housing. Palomera affirms that the public ownership of this land must be preserved over time, and the public administration must regulate and set the prices. This permanent qualification of the land is contemplated in the Decree Law 17/2019 of the Generalitat de Catalunya, making the promotions of subsidised housing in perpetuity. And the second one, presented by Módenes, would be to take advantage of all unused housing, encouraging owners, most of them small landlords, to carry out reforms and renovations to meet the optimal qualities to be inhabited and improve energy efficiency. Similarly, Guifré Homedes, CEO of Amat Inmobiliaris also highlights the possibility of studying the transformation of empty commercial premises into social housing.

With the aim of promoting a more sustainable housing stock, Nuria Parlón, mayoress of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, points out that it would be desirable for both measures to focus on achieving more flexible housing, adapted to different life cycles. In other words, they should be adapted to the needs of young people - making it easier for them to become emancipated -, families - offering wider spaces -, and the elderly by improving accessibility.

The content of this article is the result of the debate that took place during the series of Municipal Housing Conferences that took place in May 2021. To see the chronicle and the video of the four conferences click on the following links:

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Cities  Housing